DEAR READERS: One Health is a collaborative strategy, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for achieving optimal health outcomes in light of the interconnectedness of domestic animals, wildlife, the environment and people. Keeping domestic cats indoors is one example of how a simple practice can have far-reaching beneficial consequences across the One Health spectrum.
A good overview of this concept was recently published online by Grant Sizemore of the American Bird Conservancy. In his post entitled "One Health, Domestic Cats, and Zoonotic Diseases," Sizemore covered the relationship of One Health to ABC's Cats Indoors program.
"Our Cats Indoors program educates the public and policymakers about the many benefits to birds, cats and people when cats are maintained indoors or under an owner's direct control," he wrote. "In addition to advocating for responsible pet ownership solutions, we also oppose Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) for feral cats because of the persistent and severe threats posed by these cats on the landscape." (To read the full post, visit abcbirds.org/blog21/cats-zoonotic-diseases.)
On the topic of zoonotic diseases, cats are the primary host for toxoplasmosis, which they can transmit to other species -- including us. They can even reinfect themselves by eating infected mice and other prey, which pick up the pathogen from environments contaminated by cat feces.
Apart from disease, there are ethical reasons to keep cats inside, as reported by Kwame Anthony Appiah, writer of The New York Times' "The Ethicist" column. Appiah recently wrote that "responsible animal-rights groups now agree that our feline companions should not be left to roam free."
DEAR DR. FOX: Regarding the Seresto/cancer link, I thank you for your article where you shared the New York couple's experience. Their story sounds a lot like the nightmare we just experienced with our dog.
We, too, were on our second Seresto collar on our boy Beringer, and five months into his wearing it, I noticed a bump on him. It was a tumor. He passed away two months later, after the surgeon was unable to remove the full tumor.
I'm wondering if you are receiving many letters like these. -- L.F., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR L.F.: I have had letters in the past from dog owners who reported that their animal companions developed tumors/cancer soon after using these kinds of insecticide-diffusing collars. But I do not have a formal, collated registry of such instances, and I doubt that the FDA or USDA has one, either.
The reporting and recording of adverse reactions to these collar-loaded and/or orally administered insecticides in cats and dogs is spotty at best. But a meta-analysis, as has been done to expose the seizure risks of such products, is needed to prove or disprove their role in the genesis of various cancers, especially lymphatic.
So I err on the side of caution and advise that these insecticides should not be used on companion animals, especially on a routine, "preventive" basis. I recommend that pet owners follow the safe and integrated steps I offer on my website (DrFoxOneHealth.com) to keep fleas and ticks off our animals.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your recent column (about the practices at some Blue Pearl locations). I have practiced general dentistry for over 50 years. Corporate dentistry is practicing the exact same way -- profits over ethics! Public beware! Well written, Dr. Fox! -- M.C., Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR M.C.: I am sure most readers of my column will appreciate your statement. It seems as though mammon rules in these times, with the quest for profits overriding ethics and common human decency. Indeed, the Golden Rule has been morally inverted -- those with the gold rule!
Time for an ethical awakening and a call to conscience and accountability -- all aspects of a long-overdue revolution and evolution in human values, consciousness and behavior.
GUIDANCE ON MANAGING FREE-RANGING DOMESTIC CATS
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), in collaboration with the American Bird Conservancy and other partners, has published a comprehensive domestic cat management guide. The document, entitled "Toolkit to Address Free-ranging Domestic Cats (Felis catus) on Agency Lands Managed for Native Wildlife and Ecosystem Health," covers a range of topics including predation, disease, legal and policy issues, along with management solutions. The toolkit is the result of work by AFWA's Feral and Free-ranging Cat Working Group, which will soon release more detailed guidance on model policies and an updated AFWA resolution on the control of free-ranging domestic cats.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)